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Lose that paunch! 10 belly-flattening foods

September 02, 2013 17:48 IST

Lose that paunch! 10 belly-flattening foods

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Shameem Akthar

A lot of the foods that help you shed lard around the belly are actually fun, like dark chocolate.

Most people think having a toned stomach is only about an abs workout. While the latter is all-important, there is a core component to losing that stubborn fat around the stomach -- and that comes from eating the right foods.

A flat stomach is not to be gained from eating less, but from eating wisely. Managing portion sizes, avoiding some foods and choosing others can go a long way in getting you back in shape at the midriff.

The best thing about a diet for a flat tummy is that a lot of the foods that help you shed lard around the belly are actually fun, like dark chocolate.

But of course, you have to avoid the usual culprits that distend the abdomen: fizzy drinks, sugar and sugary foods including too much starch, too much salt or spice, alcohol and processed products. In this list, the surprise inclusions are those we generally consider healthy, for instance raw foods (they distend the stomach, causing gas due to high fibre content) and chewing gum.

Read on as yogacharya Shameem Akthar shares a few basic tips about such foods, as she scouts around for a panacea to bulging bellies.


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Dark chocolate

Yes dark chocolate helps burn fat in very positive ways. One because it is so rich in antioxidants that it controls cravings that arise when the body is nutrient-deficient. 

Also, it contains stearic acid which gives one a sense of fullness and thus controls hunger.

Of course, portion size is important. You need to read the labels carefully to see that the cocoa content of the chocolate is high.


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Olives

For the same reason as avocados, olives rank very highly as belly fat burners. The good fats they contain are the secret to reducing chronic inflammation, burning bad fat, filling you up with nutrients and helping you absorb them better, thereby helping to control cravings. 

You can include olives in your diet in several interesting ways -- as pickled add-ons to your salads, olive tapenade, in salad dressings or as your cooking oil.


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Peanuts

Peanuts contain good fats, high protein content, and fibre that helps you feel full. One's energy levels go up after eating some peanuts, making one less hungry. 

You can have peanut butter instead of regular butter, as a dip, use it in salad dressings or then boil or roast peanuts whole for flavour and texture.


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Beans

We all know beans are a great vegetarian source for proteins. Here’s the next best deal -- they also contain flavonoids which help burn tummy fat. 

In India we have a rich tradition of bean consumption, so varieties and recipes are plentiful enough to keep this aspect of our diet nicely engaged.


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Sesame seeds

According to Ayurveda, the sesame seed is said to contain oil that reaches all seven tissues (dhatus) of the body. They are rich in good fats, help control hunger and thus aid in weight loss. 

Sesame seeds may be consumed as toppings on breads, salads, as cooking oil, tahini and in dips.


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Walnuts

A few walnuts should do the trick, since they are rich in MUFAs that beat the bad fats.


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Tea

Tea, particularly green tea, can be used as a fat-buster. Any tea is said to help block fat; it's a better substitute for coffee in this sense, as the latter revs you up and so isn't recommended in times of stress (stress also encourages fat deposits on the stomach).


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Tuna

Tuna and other seafood like salmon and oysters, which contain good omega 3 fats, give you a natural high, control satiety levels in your brain and bust fat naturally.


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Avocados

People steer clear of avocados in the market because they are expensive and because they have a high fat content. 

But in the long run it appears that consuming a small portion of avocado often can help you with belly fat loss. Avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat which is said to suppress hunger. Monounsaturated fats or MUFAs, as they are known, are 'good' fats that help burn the bad fats. In fact, MUFAs are even recommended for blood pressure and cholesterol control. 

Avocados, therefore, are a high-energy food and consuming them means requiring less of other foods.


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Oatmeal

It's a a super muscle food, simply because it has all the ingredients of a meal packed into very small quantities. Think of the animal that eats oats in abundance and you will get the point immediately -- how sleek horses are and how muscled! 

Oatmeal contains protein, dietary fibre that fills you up, and has a low glycemic index, which means it helps prevent hunger cravings because it prevents one's blood sugar levels from see-sawing. 

Adding some interesting toppings to your oatmeal can help beat its blandness; a handful of raisins, cranberries or dried fruit, or mixing it up with fruit yoghurt will work wonders.


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